The UAE has marked International Day of Happiness with a series of amicable gestures, including smiley face stamps for passengers arriving at Dubai airport, while hundreds linger in jail without charge or access to lawyers.
International Day of Happiness, which is led by the United Nations and celebrated annually on 20 March, aims to give happiness greater priority in the quest for human progress after 193 UN member states adopted a resolution to this end.
At Dubai airport travellers were greeted by officers from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), the agency which regulates the entry and residency of foreign nationals in Dubai, who posed for pictures with the passengers in a bid to provide them with a warm welcome. The travellers then received passport stamps that included a smiley face and a message that read “Welcome to Happy UAE.”
The gesture was also extended to workers at the GDRFA, who were exempted from their usual fingerprint scans to clock in and out of work and instead found the message “your smile is your fingerprint” left on the scanners. The workers also received a surprise video message of happiness on their computers from Major-General Mohammad Ahmad Al-Merri, director-general of GDRFA, reported Gulf News.
The UAE also marked the day by releasing 11 prisoners who had their debts settled by local charities.
This comes as the Emirates was ranked the happiest country in the Arab World according to the World Happiness Report.
No mention was made of the over 200 people who have been arbitrarily arrested in the UAE and are being held in unknown locations across the country. Most have had no access to lawyers or contact with family members.
Yesterday also marked one year since the arbitrary detention of the award-winning human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor. It was later announced that he would be charged with“using social media [including Twitter and Facebook] sites to publish false and misleading information that harms national unity and social harmony and damages the country’s reputation” and “promoting sectarian and hate-incited agenda.”
Despite this however Mansoor is yet to be officially charged by authorities, according to UK-based rights group ICFUAE.